Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weezie Rides Again

Finally!  After more than a year without riding a roller coaster, and after a summer in which I was told not to ride roller coasters, Weezie finally got her fix yesterday!  September 24th was a date I'd had on my calendar for a long time and though it was a little disappointing (read on), I did get to ride, and with some of the coolest people I know, too.   

Last night was Great Adventure's Annual Out in the Park event, something that my friends and I have been going to for years now.  I figured that since this particular date was so late in the season and more than two months after my back issues, it'd be the perfect time to go, and it kinda was.  The weather was crisp and very autumn-like and all of the rides were running.

The Great El Toro!

Our first ride is one of my favorites..El Toro.  It was around 5 p.m. when we got to the park, and the place was packed.  Almost an hour and a half wait to ride this one, but once we were in that seat, it was definitely worth it.  Take a quick ride...  

At the end of that exhilarating ride, we all came off laughing at our pal Sonny, who had never ridden El Toro and was screaming the whole way.  We stopped at the picture booth to check out how silly we all looked and a gem was found:

Yup, that's Sonny on the left (my other pal Sean is on the right!).  You can imagine from the look on her face just how hard we were laughing, and it continued the whole night through.  We giggled and fooled around and chatted amiably for the next six-plus hours as we rode Nitro, Bizarro, and the all-new Joker (Loved!).  Wait, that's only four rides altogether.  Well, no, there were two rides on Nitro.  Well...

Out At Night: A Rant

I mentioned earlier in the post to read on, and this is where a little rant comes in.  I'd said that my friends and I have been going to this event for a few years now, not every year, but mostly.  The event, Out At Night, is supposed to be a night for LGBT's to enjoy some rip-roaring, our-kind-of fun in the park.  There used to be a dance party, beer and drink gardens, dancing, and best of all, short lines.  Well, no more.  Like everything else good, (see A Pitiful Night on the Sea Tea), this event has morphed into something altogether different than it used to be, and is no longer worth it.

I don't blame the organizers for what it was like at Great Adventure yesterday.  I place blame on Six Flags and good old fashioned capitalistic greed.  You see, in recent years, the Halloween-themed days at the park, dubbed Fright Fest at Six Flags' parks, has become a huge draw, and to seemingly capitalize on its popularity, SFGA had been running theirs a week already.  Where we used to have the park to ourselves, that is no longer the case.   

Yes, that first ride on El Toro ate up almost two hours of our evening, and so did lines for the other rides.  Kingda Ka was an hour and forty-five minute wait...not worth sucking up another two hours.  For the first time in recent memory, we had to pick and choose which coasters to ride, given the time we had at the park, which is a darned shame.  There were people everywhere, and though there were LGBT's in the crowd, there were far more of everybody else.  I'm done with Out At Night!  

It's too bad that Six Flags seems to have chosen the almighty dollar over goodwill.  I always waited till this event to visit this, my home park, and now I'll have to choose an alternative.  Despite the huge crowds, long lines and few rides, it really was a fun night of riding and the only pain I had in my back was from standing so long.  Luckily I had good people to share the experience with, and I guess we'll just have to find another day to go next year...maybe a Monday!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Working to Remember and Never Forget

Today marks 15 years since that terrible day.  When I think of the events of September 11th, 2001, I can recall most of it vividly.  I think most of us who were adults at the time can.  I couldn't help but notice today that there seemed to be less and less mention of the anniversary on social media.  Now I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others and I saw very little of anything, at least in comparison to past years, about what happened that day.  I guess it should be expected...time does that healing thing, which is really a good thing. But still, forgetting this is not an option.  

I have to admit, even though this was a notable anniversary, I didn't even think about the day until I finally saw a post on Instagram around 2:00 this afternoon.  Sure, I'd known it was coming, but for some reason it just hadn't entered my mind.  Today was a similar day, weather-wise, to that September day back in 2001, only not as clear and not as crisp, and though I admittedly did not actively think on the anniversary often today, I couldn't let it go without a mention.

Of course, the sentiments that go along with that day will dwindle even more over time, but they should never be forgotten.  In school, our principal always mentions the date and asks any of us who plan to do anything to commemorate the day to share it with him.  Well, the kids in high school today were either babies at the time or not even born yet when it happened, so to them it's not as personal, not as meaningful.

Since my students are all foreign born, they know even less of that sad, sad day, and during one of my early morning periods, they had come to me from their Global Studies class in which they had just seen a video and had an accompanying worksheet to fill out on the event.  They were confused and didn't really understand what they had just been taught.  I promptly decided to forego my own lesson just to talk to them.

I wrote the word terrorism on the board, and asked them to give me words that they thought would fit the definition.  In a bit of sad reality, they were able to come up with some words to fit that heinous tactic: bombs, guns, killing, etc.  I added the word scare and we launched a conversation that began with the recent attacks in Nice and Paris and we worked our way back to 9/11.  I recounted my own memories of that day, from the moment I'd heard a plane had crashed into one of the towers early on to being glued to the television all day and all night.  I choked up a little when I spoke of the heroes on United Flight 93 and knew right then that although my own memories and feelings about September 11th, 2001 had diminished, the feelings were still there deep inside me.  

So if you found yourself in the same place as I today, and you feel like maybe you've lost some of that anger, horror and sadness over the 3,000-plus lives that were lost just fifteen years ago today, then I think you need to relive it a little,  Whether it's by watching a program on the events, or sharing your own recollections with someone who wasn't around and doesn't know.  I think from here on, we're going to have to work to remember...and never forget.   

See also:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another New Year, Another Resolution?

Labor Day 2016 - Every year on this day, I (...and a lot of other people!) tend to reflect on the summer that's just passed and the upcoming 10 months of the new school year. Though things were precarious back at the end of June...a bad back, a cancelled trip to Europe and a decent shortage of funds, I ended up having a great summer!

Here's to a Great Summer!

From the very first day of summer vacation, I was having a blast. From dinners with friends, nights on Fire Island, reunions with old friends, the Invasion of the Pines, trips to Philly, camping, upstate NY, and Florida, it was a fun-filled time for sure.  Here are some great memories...

Good times, yes they were, but now it's time to let go of summer and put my nose to the grindstone. 

A Big Year Ahead

Today was the first day of a new school year, one that aims to be even tougher than last...and I'm already exhausted. The school year 2015-16 was my most difficult to date. I took on new responsibilities and my day to day job became monstrously difficult.  This year is already shaping up to be another tough one, and I just have to dig deep and learn how to better deal with things.

It's All About Focus

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a book called The Life You Were Born to Lead, by Dan Millman, and although I can't say I've been following it faithfully since, I have kept in my mind some of the things it's taught me.  The book basically uses the foundations of numerology to reveal the underlying traits that make you you, and the one thing Millman says about me that rings so true in my everyday life is that I lack focus.

Like the old saying goes, you can be good at a lot of things, but you can be really great at simply one, or two.  Most old adages are founded in truth and surely this one is, especially in my case.  I have my hand in many things, and I am good at a lot of them, but great at none.  As I begin this new year, I find myself once again trying to 'fix' myself, and perhaps focus is the key.

So once the dust settles on the beginning of this new school year, I will be taking a good, hard look at all of the things I do and try and figure out which ones I truly love and which ones I could really do without.  Then maybe I can focus on far less and get on with it...